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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Farm Family Loses Bid for|$4.7M Cut of Settlement

(CN) - An Illinois family is not entitled to $4.7 million of a $26 million class-action settlement after thousands of gallons of gas from a Shell Oil Co. pipeline spilled onto their farm in 1988, a state appeals court ruled.

Farmers and property owners sued Shell in 2001 after gas from its pipeline spilled onto farmland in Kankakee County. Their lawsuit resulted in a 2007 class-action settlement for $26 million.

The Danhausen family, whose farm was contaminated by the spill, challenged the decision of the settlement administrator, who granted them $120,489 as reimbursement for the damage to their property and water.

The Danhausen estate claimed it was entitled to $1.17 million for diminution of property value and $3.52 million for nuisance and quiet enjoyment.

The trial court ruled that because Shell had paid the Danhausens an undisclosed amount of rent, $120,489 was adequate compensation. The court found no evidence that the Danhausens planned to subdivide the property for residential development.

The 3rd District Appellate Court, based in Ottawa, Ill., agreed with the trial court that the settlement formula was "fair, reasonable and adequate."

Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Robert L. Carter said the Danhausen estate "does not provide any legal or factual support for its claim."

"While it is undisputed that the gasoline spill occurred on the Danhausen estate's property, it did not present adequate evidence that it was entitled to a larger distribution of the settlement fund for these damages," Carter concluded.

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